Lean production (now frequently called Lean manufacturing) has melded into several industries here in the United States, but back when this book was written, it was just catching on. I read the book in 2000. Many of the concepts are still worthwhile in this book, both for the historical significance as well as the lean ideas presented.
The Machine that Changed the World is a fascinating book that teaches what the Japanese learned and how to apply their ideas to the US auto market. Competition is always tough, but these tools provides a competitive advantage to those companies who embrace them and make them part of doing business. Not all ideas are applicable to every application, but there are plenty of diamonds to be farmed here.
Well trained employees, a commitment to excellence by everyone (from the janitor to the CEO), teamwork, flexibility of skill sets, and learning lessons from successes and failures are all important elements of lean manufacturing. Setting up manufacturing lines efficiently, working closely with suppliers, line smoothing, encouraging innovative and cost saving suggestions and much more are also critical lean concepts.
Lean manufacturing doesn't happen overnight and a company and its employees must be diligent in their efforts to put high quality products at reasonable prices out the door.
The Machine that Changed the World is highly rated by many people and should be. It has timeless ideas to produce higher quality products and recommends never being completely satisfied. Well written and researched, this is a top notch book!The Re-Discovery of Common Sense: A Guide To: The Lost Art of Critical Thinking